The Last Best League: One Summer, One Season, One Dream

Overview


Every summer, in ten small towns across Cape Cod, the finest college baseball players in the country gather in hopes of making it to ?The Show.? The hopes are justifiably high: The Cape Cod Baseball League is the best amateur league in the world, producing one out of every six major league players, from Nomar Garciaparra and Frank Thomas to Jeff Bagwell and Barry Zito.Jim Collins chronicles a season in the life of one team?the Chatham A?s, perhaps the most celebrated team in the league. Set against the backdrop ...
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Overview


Every summer, in ten small towns across Cape Cod, the finest college baseball players in the country gather in hopes of making it to “The Show.” The hopes are justifiably high: The Cape Cod Baseball League is the best amateur league in the world, producing one out of every six major league players, from Nomar Garciaparra and Frank Thomas to Jeff Bagwell and Barry Zito.Jim Collins chronicles a season in the life of one team—the Chatham A’s, perhaps the most celebrated team in the league. Set against the backdrop of a resort town on the bend of the outer Cape, the story charts the changing fortunes of a handful ?of players battling slumps and self-doubt in their effort to make the league playoffs and, more importantly, impress the major league scouts.We learn about everything from the physics of wooden bats and the physiology of elbows to the psychology of slumps and the lure of drugs. In the course of a single dramatic season, with euphoric wins and devastating losses, we come to know the intricacies of the major league scouting network and the rapidly changing profile of major league baseball.In the tradition of The Boys of Summer, The Last Best League is about dreams fulfilled and dreams denied, about Cape Cod and the rites of summer, and about the way one small town grows to love a group of young men coming of age in America.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Fuel Baseball magazine, Spring 2010
“In the tradition of The Boys of Summer, The Last Best League is about dreams fulfilled and dreams denied; it’s about Cape Cod and the rites of summer; and about the way one small town grows to love a group of young men coming of age in America.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Perhaps the best off-the-beaten-path book of 2004...Collins does a masterful job.
Portland Phoenix 9/2/05
"The Finest baseball book I've read since Roger Angell was a rookie."
All-Baseball.com 7/22/05
"A very enjoyable read."
The Washington Post
Collins is taking us into Field of Dreams territory, in other words. As the great commercial success of the book and movie of that title makes plain, plenty of people love to go there, so The Last Best League may be just the summer-reading ticket for them this year.—Jonathan Yardley
Publishers Weekly
The Cape Cod Baseball League, which began in the 19th century as local entertainment for summer residents, has evolved into the jewel of American amateur baseball. Sanctioned by the NCAA, the league invites the best college players to come to breezy seaside communities to work on their game during what amounts to their off-season-late June through mid-August-without sacrificing their amateur status. And come they do, to one of the 10 teams sponsored by small towns and New England businesses, staffed by volunteers, the players hosted by local families and given day jobs as clerks, seafood haulers and day-camp counselors. Collins, a former editor of Yankee magazine and once a Dartmouth second baseman with dreams of the big leagues, brings a local historian's eye and the heart of a fan to a chronicle of one Cape Cod League team, the Chatham A's, during the 2002 season. He has produced a book that will be a treat to casual fans who might not know the process by which college players are courted by agents-graded as to character, body type and bat speed, and then tagged with a price. Collins wisely focuses his story on a handful of the most promising Chatham players, most memorably Wake Forest's slugging third baseman Jamie D'Antona, an extremely likable nutcase, for whom readers will find themselves rooting hard. There is also the undersized Blake Hanan, the brainy Princeton righty Tom Pauly and the sphinxlike load of a pitcher, Tim Stauffer. Their crusty manager, John Schiffner, adds a little spice and tobacco juice to the mix. Along the way, readers will gain an appreciation for summer on Cape Cod and the place of baseball, as it once was, in the heart of local communities. Agent, Stuart Krichevsky. (Apr.) FYI: About a dozen of the players on the Chatham A's were drafted by major league teams, including Tim Stauffer in the first round and D'Antona and Pauly in the second. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Sportswriter Collins offers an insightful look at the Cape Cod Baseball League, which brings together many of the NCAA's top players to compete in an abbreviated schedule each summer. The league has served as a steppingstone for several major league stars, including Todd Helton, Nomar Garciaparra, Frank Thomas, Jeff Kent, and Barry Zito. The author focuses on the Chatham Athletics, led by manager John Schiffner. Collins traces the evolution of the 2002 Chatham A's, a team saddled with injuries, subpar performances, late arrivals, and untimely departures, with oft-injured southpaw pitcher Scott Hindman receiving a $170,000 contract, which, as he acknowledged, amounted to "seventeen thousand dollars for every inning I pitched in college." Slugger Jamie D'Antona battled his own immaturity and the league's wooden bats before returning to Wake Forest, while All-American pitcher Tim Stauffer was drafted in the first round but lost nearly $2 million in signing bonuses after informing the San Diego Padres about his sore arm. On a happier note, Tom Pauly grew during his stint with the Chatham A's, which then led to his stellar performance at Princeton, followed by his inking a lucrative deal with the Cincinnati Reds. Recommended for all public libraries.-Robert C. Cottrell, California State Univ., Chico Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306814181
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 3/14/2005
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Jim Collins is former editor of Yankee magazine, a native New Englander, and a former college baseball player at Dartmouth. To research The Last Best League, he relocated his family from New Hampshire to Chatham, Massachusetts, attended every game, and was given complete insider's access to the team and players. He is an accomplished magazine writer whose work has twice been included in Best American Sportswriting.
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Table of Contents

The compelling story of a single season in the world's finest amateur baseball league.

Every summer, in ten small towns across Cape Cod, young college baseball players showcase their talents in hopes of making it to the "show." A vicious filter, the league has produced one out of every six major league players, from Nomar Garciaparra and Todd Helton to Jeff Bagwell and Barry Zito.

In this brilliantly crafted narrative, Jim Collins chronicles a season in the life of the Chatham A's, perhaps the most celebrated team in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Set against a seemingly bucolic backdrop; a well-heeled resort town on the bend of the outer Cape, the story charts the changing fortunes of a handful of players, all of whom battle slumps and self-doubt in an effort to impress major league scouts and make the playoffs. Several players go home with career-threatening injuries; one blue-chip prospect fulfills great expectations while another is dubbed "the biggest disappointment on the Cape." A pitcher hides an arm injury while negotiating a minor league contract; another leaves early to tend to his dying father. And nearly all look to the following year's major league draft as a barometer of their worth. Far more than a baseball book, The Last Best League is an engrossing story about dreams fulfilled and dreams destroyed, about Cape Cod and the rites of summer, about coming of age in America.

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 20, 2009

    Must read for baseball fans!

    What a fantastic book! I loved the details about what these select ball players go through and the numbers that they're up against as they strive to make the draft. I've gone to Cape games my whole life and really enjoyed this objective view of what goes on behind the scenes - team chemistry, coaches' views, agents influence, personal pressure and volunteers' unwavering commitment. I read it on our Cape trip this summer, and it added so much more to our experience at the A's game. It's a book that I will share with my boys and daughter when they grow up.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2005

    My favorite book ever!

    This is the greatest sports book, or book in general, that I have read in a long time. It was like being on the Cape for that summer reading about these college kids and their dreams achieved and those not met. Very touching to share a part of the lives of these college kids and their coach. Great book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2005

    The league everyone should know about.

    Having grown up down the street from Lowell Park, home of the Cotuit Kettleers, I have been waiting for a book like this for some time. Mr. Collins has written the most authentic book on this great league i have ever read. Every detail is perfect, right down to the teenybopper groupies who attend every game hoping to get a glance from a future big leaguer or a six year old getting an autograph to treasure forever. Take it from one who grew up with the league in his own backyard, you won't be able to put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2005

    The best baseball book since Moneyball

    The Last Best League was easily the suprise baseball book of 2004. Jim Collins gives readers an all-access pass to the Chatham A's 2002 season in the prestigious Cape Cod League. The book captures the good, the bad, the highs and the lows in a brutally honest fashion. It is a joy to read the work of a true baseball man. An excellent read for any baseball fan. Hats off to Mr. Collins.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2004

    From College to the Big Leagues

    This book offers excellent insight into what collegiate players will do to make it to the big leagues. The glimpses of small town fans are also interesting. The reader is exposed to a part of baseball few know much about. Informative and fun to read.

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